“No! That’s German for The Bart, The.” – Sideshow Bob

I realized I can still just google “Random Simpsons Quotes” and land on good quotes for posts like these. So I’m doing that now. But I stand by being irritated that my old source is gone, I still assume it’s because of Disney, and I still advocate fucking Mickey in the neck. Anyway, here’s a random post.

  1. Some things fell my way financially since my last post. I won’t get specific, but I feel like I can breathe again. Some other stuff’s still wrong, but I’m trying to count my blessings. (One. One blessing. *Thunder* Ah-ha-ha!)
  2. I’ve been enjoying the Olympics this week. As many of you know I’m generally anti-sports, but I do love the Olympics. (I follow Team USA’s Twitter feed year-round.) I guess every 2-4 years is how often I’m able to care about sports. Damn shame about what’s going on with Simone Biles, but she’s unquestionably doing the right thing. And as much of an inspiration as she could be by winning a bunch of medals, she’s an even BIGGER example and inspiration for everybody (but especially young people) to do the right thing for your health. She went from being a hero in the sport to being a hero to everybody. Bless her.
  3. I’ve been slowly working my way through the movies of Wes Anderson. I hadn’t seen any, but had bought a copy of Grand Budapest Hotel on BluRay as soon as it hit the Criterion Collection last year on the recommendation of a good friend. Finally watched it, loved it, and got hungry for more. So far I’ve watched that one, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited, and Moonrise Kingdom. My favorite right now is still Grand Budapest Hotel, but I think Moonrise Kingdom might be a close second. I’m a little surprised by that because I don’t really like Bruce Willis…which…don’t get me wrong, he’s VERY good at being Bruce Willis. But he tends to make movies that aren’t my cup of tea and I don’t think I’d have a lot to say to him in a bar… But that was a good movie, with Willis used sparingly. And it was fun and funny, as is most of Anderson’s stuff. I’ve been enjoying this journey. There are 4 more to go, not counting the one he just debuted at Cannes last week. I’m saving The Life Aquatic for last…because I’m told that has a lot of Bowie songs in it and I bet I’m going to love that.
  4. I was very sad to hear that Dusty Hill died. I’ve never been the biggest ZZ Top fan, but I always appreciated him as a bass player. He was just ROCK SOLID as a player and seemed like a really good guy. I got to see ZZ Top for the first time in 2019, and they put on a good show despite a bad sound mix. As a bar-band veteran myself, I’ve probably played 99% of their hits to sloppy drunks over the years. I carry a lot of good memories of playing those songs. I’m (mostly) sure I haven’t played my last one.
  5. One of the benefits of having my new car is something that is in some ways also a detriment. For the past several years I’ve been driving a V6 engine, but the new car is a 4-cylinder. That means it’s a little (lot) more sluggish. Imagine that you go to a coworker and say, “Hey could you help me with something?” If your coworker jumps right up and says, “Sure!” that’s a V6. But if they say, “Yeah, just let me finish what I’m working on first and I’ll be glad to help out…” That’s a 4 Cylinder. You’ll get the filing cabinet moved, sure…but it’ll be a minute. There are some times I feel like I don’t have enough car underneath me in the new vehicle… But… It means I also can’t drive as much like a dick anymore. I’ve got to let some shit go on the highway and know I can’t outrun the other assholes. In many ways that’s a good thing… That’s what I’m telling myself…
  6. I go through phases of which guitar I play the most and which one is my “favorite.” Right now I’ve been beating the hell out of my American Telecaster and writing new stuff. Teles are great guitars. If I had it to do again, 10 of my 30 would be Teles. (But as it is, I’m very happy with the ones I’ve got…despite how nice that Isbell signature guitar looks…)

And I don’t know…I’m sleepy and have a lot of stuff to do tomorrow and this weekend. So I’m going to stop there for now. Just wanted to get something a little less bleak on the blog.

————

Current Listening:

  • Descendents – 9th & Walnut
  • The Kinks…just in general…

I’m in the worst financial situation of my life and I don’t know what I’m going to do. This isn’t a joke.

It’s 2 in the morning as I’m starting to write this post, and I’m sure it’ll be coming up on 3 by the time it’s finished. I can’t sleep. You might’ve guessed that much.

I’ve been doing some math. As I wrote in my previous post I’ve just come into possession of a new (to me) car. And I’ve been having trouble selling the old one. You know how I said I was “presently” asking $4000? I’m getting about $800 from a salvage buyer. Because life is shit and you shouldn’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. So that’s the first bit of math that sucks…but it gets worse… (And no, I’m not talking about having sunk $1835 into the car two weeks before deciding to sell it at a MAJOR loss…that’s lumped into this same issue.)

I had some bills increase. By substantial amounts in at least one case. And now I’ve got a car payment on top of that. The long and short of it is that if I buy the ABSOLUTE MINIMUM of groceries in a month and don’t do a goddamned thing other than go to work, I’ll have approximately $200/month left over after paying my bills. Maybe. In a GOOD month.

My life is changing for the worse and there’s no way out of it. I can accept that…but that doesn’t mean I know how to plan for it.

At bare minimum, I need a second job. Or a better-paying primary job. If anyone has any leads on either, I’m listening. I’ve been a music minister, a librarian, and an insurance rep–those are the only three jobs I’ve ever had in my life. My college degree is essentially from a Christian tech-school and isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on…that’s a mistake I made as a teenager that I’ve still got $5,228.59 left in loans to pay off… They don’t do a very good job of explaining how that’s going to cripple you when you sign up for college–if they did, no one would go. (If my student loan debt alone went away I could at least breathe a little…but that’s still at least 2 years away if I keep paying the minimum…probably more like 3, considering interest…)

Additionally, my back is pretty much shot and I can’t afford the deductible to go see a doctor to even start thinking about maybe getting it fixed… So I can’t do jobs that require a lot of physical labor… But if you’ll hire me to do something I’d sure appreciate it… I’m good with computers and filing and stuff like that. I work well at a desk. Data entry is one of my strong-suits. (I don’t even need to understand what I’m entering, I just need to know how you want it entered.) Or if you need a regular sound engineer for something…that’s something I do, too.

I like my current job. I don’t want to leave it or anything like that… But I can’t live like this…if I have one even MINOR medical issue, I’m penniless. I know that most people in America are in that same position, don’t get me wrong…but this is scary. It’s bad. Because my car broke down once too often. And to another extent because over the years I’ve made too many purchases on a credit card in the good faith that one day I’d make grown-up money and that hasn’t fucking happened. I see all the mistakes of my life absolutely clearly now…and it boils down to “I fucked up and went to Bible College, then fucked up more by living like I didn’t.”

Y’know, friends of mine talk about “not making a lot” and then drop $50-60K into the conversation like I’m supposed to gasp at their pittance… I don’t make anywhere NEAR that. Those would be absolutely life-changing numbers to me… And I need to find a way to start getting closer to them. A second job seems the easiest path, since…well since all the above shit is wrong with my life resulting in me not being qualified for anything.

I’m deciding which guitars to sell, too. Some will almost definitely have to go. If there’s one you want to bid on, let me know. I’m not kidding. I can’t afford to keep releasing music with them anyway. Only a couple are off limits.

I’m also done going to record stores. Or buying movies. Or books. Or anything. I can’t afford anything. Don’t invite me to do anything, please. I’m weak and I’ll go with you, and it will mean I can’t eat for a couple days. Don’t ask me to do stuff. I can’t even buy the gas to meet you to at your place so you can drive to the thing I can’t afford to do. If you love me, leave me out of your plans. Please. (I’m feeling nostalgic for everything in the country being completely shut down right now.)

There are unquestionably months where I’m going to be in the red. Family members will keep having birthdays. And Christmas will still take place. And I’ll just have to hope that when I go to those parties food is provided and I can sneak some home in my coat, I guess…

I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ve never been in this position before. I’m very, very scared and I don’t know if I’m going to get through this. It’s bad. It’s very, very bad. I need to be making $200-500/month more than I am to even see a light at the end of the tunnel. People seem to think it’s a joke when I say I view getting a new car as a negative…but it’s not a joke. This has ruined me. I’ve never felt this helpless. Never. Even if the car-stuff hadn’t happened, the increased bills would’ve meant some serious cutbacks…but now? I don’t have the same life I did three weeks ago anymore and I don’t see any way to get it back.

So that’s why I’m up.

Driving Onward…

Alright, well…so it’s been a heck of a couple of weeks…

Remember how I mentioned in my last post that I got my car back but I now have to jiggle the key to get it started after the stellar work that Bommarito Ford in Hazelwood, MO did on something completely unrelated to that, even though it wasn’t happening before (Trump donating) Bommarito Ford worked on it? And remember how I said I was hoping to make it a month before taking it in (somewhere other than Bommarito Ford) to fix that? And how I might end up selling the car in six months at that rate?

Well…

The ignition crapped out on me and I can’t get it started. Thankfully it’s parked somewhere that I could leave it…because at that point I decided I was done. That’s a small fix. But it’s another $500 on top of the $1835 I paid to Bommarito Ford in Hazelwood, MO for the problem that existed *prior* to taking it to them. (That dealership again: Bommarito Ford in Hazelwood, MO.) And…I’m out. I’m tapping out.

So I got a new car. And I’m working on selling the one that broke down. (I figured selling it myself would result in a better price than taking a non-running car in for a trade-in. Long story short, it’s not going well. If anyone wants it, the ACV is $5900, but there are some dents and dings and the ignition needs to be fixed. I’m presently asking $4000.) 

I wasn’t planning on having a new car just yet. I was hoping to make it a couple years to begin with, but even as it is I still got it a LOT sooner than I was prepared to once I made the decision. I went to see a friend who sells used cars (and is also a pastor–way to lean into the stereotype). My plan was to LOOK at a couple and just start getting an idea of what’s in my price-range and what my options might be. And he ended up having me test drive a 2013 Chevy Equinox. And I liked it. And even though it was sooner than I wanted it to be, I popped on it and long-story short after some finagling that also involved my dad, it came home with me.

I like it. It’s fine. But I still view getting a car and having a payment for the next several years as a major loss that really fucks up a lot of things about my life. But to keep working since the pandemic is (VERY FUCKING FAR FROM BUT I GUESS WE’RE IGNORING IT) over, I have to have a car. So I do. At least the stereo’s good. And it’s roomy. If anybody would like to suggest any bumper-stickers that need to go on it, feel free. (There’s a fee of $4000 if your suggestion wins.)

It only came with one key. So I should probably have a second key made. I don’t know how to do that. Or who to ask. Or what it will cost. Probably too much. Whatever.

And I need to go to the fucking DMV to…do whatever the hell it is you do in this situation. I don’t know. I’m going to take a copy of EVERYTHING and just hope I can still sit down in a chair after they’re done doing what they do to me. (Spoiler alert…I won’t.)

It’s dumb that you have to pay your sales tax at the DMV after buying a vehicle. It’s…I just signed away a shitload of money and now I have to give somebody ELSE more of it for no reason… I’m sure there are stand up comics who’ve pointed out how stupid that is before. This is old ground… But imagine buying a TV and then having to go to a different, bureaucratic hellscape to pay the sales tax on it. What kind of God would allow that?

But hey for the handful of people younger than me who don’t know to do this…any time anybody, ESPECIALLY a car dealer, says “no money down” to you, the next words out of your mouth need to be, “And how does my payment change if I put down (amount you’re able to put down)?” Because it could drop by HUNDREDS if you can put a few thousand dollars down on a car. “No money down” just fucks you in the (pretty immediate) future. Don’t ever fall for that shit. Nobody tells you that. So there. I told you that.

So…now I’ve got a car. And a payment. Which is going to hurt. A LOT.

But hey…at least it’s all my fault for trying to do my best.

Anyway, my podcast is going to have a new episode this weekend.

I can no longer find random Simpsons quotes, so I guess I’m just writing whatever here now…

So what has happened since May 22? It’s been a month since I last wrote. I used to do this daily. I guess when I was younger I had more to say. Now I just say the same shit over and over and people are like, “there he goes again…” But I digress. Let’s do this in the way where I just talk about stuff as it occurs to me and I number it and whatnot… In 2004 we called that “everything/nothing” but all those little shits who run YouTube now probably call it something else.

  1. For several years I did this gimmick with a random Simpsons quote in the title. But the webpage I used to use to generate a random quote has been taken down because Disney won’t let anyone have any harmless fun–even with properties they didn’t create and yet profit from, despite the fact that quoting those properties doesn’t hurt them in any way, shape, or form… So that gimmick’s dead. And so is a part of my soul. Thanks Disney, you fucks.. Daffy can kick Donald’s ass any fucking day of the week, by the way. And fuck Mickey, too. Just fuck him in the neck.
  2. I got my car back. It cost me $1835. But I got my car back. Now I just need it to run for another year to two and I can trade it in. I’m not sure it’ll make it. But I’ve got a friend at a Kia dealership that I’m looking forward to visiting whenever it happens… When I got the car back, it came with a slight problem. Now I’ve got to jiggle the key to get it to start. I didn’t used to have to do that. That’s new, since having taken it to (known Trump supporter) Bommarito Ford in Hazelwood, MO. Prior to that I never had to jiggle the key in my life. Including the day it died. But after paying (again, known Trump supporter) Bommarito Ford in Hazelwood, MO $1835, now I have to jiggle the key to get it to start. So EVERY time I start it comes with the possibility of it not starting–moreso than usual. I’m not SAYING that they broke that on purpose to try to fuck me out of another $400, but if one were to draw that conclusion, I couldn’t possibly stop you. So I’ll have to fix THAT eventually too…but I’m hoping it makes it a month or two before I do….
    Shit… I might sell this thing in 6 months instead of waiting…
  3. I went back to my office for a day last week and I’m planning on going back a day this week. I’m easing in. They want us to all start transitioning back in July, so I’m taking it literally one day at a time. The first day went okay. I’ve been having some pretty extreme anxiety attacks any time I’ve had to walk into a public building lately, so I was worried about it…but no problems on the first day. It helped that the first people I saw were my direct boss (who I’ve known since college), my best friend (who I’ve known since the 90s), and my very good friend (who I’ve known since about 2014). It felt safe and basically comfortable. But if I’m honest, I am definitely going to miss a LOT about working from home. I feel like I’ve been thriving in this environment. But I know many others have been struggling pretty bad. So I get it. I’ve got to go back. Fortunately, that seems like it won’t be so bad. After my first day, I rewarded myself with a banana split.
  4. By the way, I’m presently checking in at 155 lbs. My lowest weight was 145 at the very end of 2019, but I’ve mostly been 150-155 since. The diet worked and I’ve been intentional about making it stick. Everybody can do that. You just have to want it enough to eat a potato instead of a bag of potato chips. (That said, medically speaking I should be more like 135…but I lost 100 fucking pounds… I’ll take it for now.)
  5. I’ve been on a Tragically Hip kick. In the past week I’ve listened to Gord Downie’s complete solo discography, several of The Hip’s albums, and watched a couple BluRays. They were great and a lot of Americans (including myself) missed out on them for a long time.
  6. My family got together for a bit on Father’s Day. It was good to see everybody. My brother has a smoker/grill that runs on wood pellets and he takes any opportunity he can to fire it up (as would we all). He cooked some really fucking good chicken this time. (He’s also done really fucking good burgers, really fucking good hot dogs, really fucking good brats, really fucking good pork steaks, and so on…) My grill is currently a rusty mess and unusable. Which is probably the best thing for my health. But I would like a goddamn steak sometime…and I’m not ready to go into restaurants to get one yet.
  7. Since my last post I turned 41. My birthday went fine. We did that at Dave’s place, too. Got cool gifts. I’m slowly working my way through a 10-disc(!) collection of the Woodstock festival. There are a lot of bands you don’t remember and stage announcements you don’t care about between your CSNYs and Whos and Hendrixes and so on… (Is that how you pluralize “Hendrix,” by the way? Has anyone else had to do that?) It felt a little better than my 40th, which was spent in isolation, for sure. I hope in 2022 I can do what I WANTED to do for my 40th and just set up shop at one of my favorite bars (probably Blueberry Hill) and just have people come by for a burger and a beer (or whatever’s your poison). But we’ll see… I’ll be able to justify it…after all, when I’m 42, I’ll officially be the answer to the question of life, the universe, and everything…
  8. You know how some bullshit people say you’re supposed to speak your wishes into the universe to manifest them? Well Jason Isbell signature Telecaster. Okay?
  9. I’ve been reading a lot lately. I’ll probably go into that on the podcast though, so I don’t want to go into detail now…but I’m running low on stuff…
  10. The podcast will be returning soon, by the way. I’ve been posting occasional updates from my phone app while gearing up for the next real episode. You can check that out at emptychecking.podbean.com, I bet… It’s been a difficult journey to get the podcast working again… And it isn’t over yet… But we’re closer than we’ve been since whenever the hell I did my last full episode.

That’s it, I guess.

Get vaccinated. Black Lives Matter. Trans rights are human rights. Women should be paid the same as men. And all the other stuff that pisses off people who’re already pissed off by the rest of this paragraph.

“Goodness me, the clock has struck-Alackday, and…

…fuck my luck.”

That’s how the quote from the title ends. It’s a Vonnegut thing. I didn’t want to put “fuck” in a post title for dumb reasons that go back to my Baptist upbringing and former ministerial lifestyle.

By the way (this is the earliest tangent I think I’ve ever gone on in any post) I recently have discovered that if you tell people you’re a “former minister” many of them assume you DID something to be “defrocked.” People don’t understand that many of us got into the business, saw it was a BUSINESS, and got out, disgusted. They assume we fucked someone or something we shouldn’t have and got drummed out. Most of us didn’t. I didn’t. I just hated having to pretend I wasn’t dealing with depression to make the elders happy and bailed for my own sanity…

ANYWAY…

I’m presently in the middle of the worst run of bad luck I’ve ever had in my life. Here’s a summary…

On Friday, April 30, I was in a parking lot in Maplewood (MO) and my car wouldn’t start. Inconvenient, but I called my insurance company to arrange roadside assistance and a tow and called my brother for a ride home. Simple enough, right?

Not hardly.

This started at 7:03 p.m., per my phone’s call log. I called their roadside assistance number and had to navigate their phone-maze and also a smart-phone text-based link system to get the tow started–which was infuriating. It took me a half hour to just get somebody on the phone after having my policy number (which I was typing in correctly) rejected multiple times by the broken web-link they sent to my phone…eventually I just randomly started pressing buttons and got a representative. Already a bad start, just trying to get their bullshit technology to work. Used to be you could call and talk to a person…not so now. Anyone who isn’t well-versed in all applications of their phone (eg-a senior citizen) would be LOST. But after a while I finally talked to someone and at 8:23 p.m. they sent me a text saying a tow company was on their way with a 75-85 minute estimate.

So I’m already an hour and a half in with another hour-fifteen wait. But, sure. Whatever. Still just an inconvenience. And my brother had shown up, so I had someone to talk to.

85 minutes came and went. No further contact…until 10:03 when I received a text asking if I was still waiting. I replied that I was and they said I could call the tow company or insurance company to discuss it. Called the tow company. Straight to voicemail and the inbox was full. So I called the insurance company. And was promptly put on hold for 20 minutes.

A person eventually picked back up, but then put me BACK on hold. She picked up after while and said she was on hold to talk to the tow driver and would call me back in five minutes…

A half hour passed and I called HER back. She answered and confirmed she was the same rep I’d just spoken to. She clearly said she confirmed the tow driver was en route and would be there in 45-55 minutes. I expressed my frustration that I had called it in at 7:03 and it was now 11:11 p.m. Her tone shifted to irritation.

Another half-hour passes.

I get a call from a different person saying she’s a supervisor reviewing the file. She says she’s working to get a tower out ASAP. I mentioned that someone had told me a half hour ago that there was a truck en route, “was that not true?” The supervisor confirmed in no uncertain terms that I had been lied to by the asshole above. So fuck her, I hope she starves in front of her children.

The supervisor confirmed a new tower. With a 45 minute wait. By now it’s midnight. But the new tower called me directly to confirm my location and keep me advised. The supervisor called a couple times too. By this time they’re doing things “right”–it only took them five hours.

The tower showed up at 1:10 a.m. He had my car out of the lot in seven minutes. It was over six hours since I called in the need for roadside assistance–my brother stayed for five of them to get me home. If it had been Winter and I had no one to call, I would have frozen to death in that time.

The insurance company then texted me five times between 2 and 7 a.m. to ask my level of satisfaction with their service. I eventually replied telling them to “get fucked in Hell” and blocked their texts.

The next day I got a call from their customer “satisfaction” department and relayed everything. Wanna know what they did to make it right? They sent me a $25 Amazon gift card. I’m not kidding. Six hours of my life that could’ve been very dangerous were worth $25 to Liberty Fucking Mutual.

Another day later I got another call from their customer satisfaction people trying to smooth things over–by now my agent had been called, too–I explained to them that they needed to quit calling and harassing me, it isn’t appreciated, and they’ve already lost my business–the next time they call I was going to give them my attorney’s phone number instead. I haven’t heard from them since.

The car was in the shop for several days and cost $660 to repair…or so I thought…

The next weekend I was in a gas station parking lot and the car once again would not start. Unbelievable, right? So I called a friend who has AAA, who I knew would come help if she was present on the scene. So she showed up and called. AAA was there in 15 minutes. Don’t pay for Liberty Mutual’s roadside “assistance.” Get AAA.

And when the shop started diagnosing the problem, the electrical system started smoking and the car nearly burst into flames. They have still not diagnosed the problem…but I’m supposed to have some answers by Tuesday. The shop owner said, “I just hope we don’t end up having to tell you to take it to the dealership or something.” (I will absolutely snap if they do.) It’s very likely that with the ACV of my car only being around $4000-5000 I’m going to just need a new car shortly. So…that’s a car payment I won’t be able to afford for…probably 10 years on what I’d actually be able to pay.

And that’s not it. If it was just car stuff…fine…whatever…it sucks…but it’s a 2009 and it’s close to death, I get it…but there’s more!

My lawnmower that’s two years old stopped working. So I’ve had to arrange for lawnmowing services. That was so far the easiest emergency.

My dryer broke down. It won’t heat up or dry clothes anymore. (And yes, I cleared out the conduit thing.) I haven’t dealt with that yet…I need to get a repairer out, but I suspect I’ll just end up having to buy a dryer soon.

Some siding fell off my house, too. From under the roof. So. I’ve got to get that addressed as well.

Additionally a contractor who I DO NOT TRUST, but who I’m using because of loyalty to family started work on my bathroom in February (and whose first diagnostic visit was in motherfucking JUNE 2020) has been completely ghosting me for weeks. He told me the work I needed done was a two day project. It’s presently on day six (over the course of four months) with him not returning calls or texts, despite the fact that he NEEDS to show up here to be paid for the work done up-to-date… So I’ve got a new toilet and new floor tile sitting in-box in my foyer. Where it’s been for almost two fucking months. Because Mark doesn’t return texts. (My next post will contain his last name, too.) Fuck. Him. He’s a liar. He’s a fraud. He’s a coward. He’s a piece of shit. And if he doesn’t get back to me THIS WEEK, he’s also not getting paid and I’m calling absolutely ANYONE else, regardless of if they’re even qualified to do the work… I presently have a check with his name on it. I would be glad to tear it up in his asshole fucking face.

And also last week, I tripped, dropped my laptop, and shattered the screen. So…that’s another thing.

And I’ve started having abdominal pains. They started on Friday May 14. Still ongoing. I think I have an ulcer. Or a bad pulled abdominal muscle–but how the hell could I have done THAT?

It’s an expensive time. A shitty time. EVERYTHING turned to shit at once… It’s all awful. There’s no silver-lining.

It’s my birthday next weekend. I’ll be 41. And I’ll be releasing two albums that day.

And I’m so fucking unhappy I want to punch God in the dick.

So that’s where I’ve been. Yourself?